Following the recent passing away of Mickey Baker, R&B and Rock'n'roll pioneer, author of the first Method book on the electric guitar (: "Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar"), there is still some debate to be found over who actually wrote his biggest and most perenial hit : "Love is Strange" he had in 1956 performing as an R&B duo, Mickey & Sylvia, with Sylvia Vanderpool (who later became Sylvia Robinson, future record label executive founder/CEO of Hip Hop label Sugar Hill Records, instigator behind two landmark singles in the genre : "Rapper's Delight" by Sugarhill Gang, the first rap song by a hip hop act, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message"!).
At a concert at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Mickey & Sylvia heard Jody Williams play a guitar riff that Williams had played on Billy Stewart's debut single "Billy's Blues". The instrumentation combined Blues with Afro-Cuban stylings. Sylvia Robinson claims that she and Mickey Baker then wrote the lyrics to that guitar riff, while Bo Diddley claims that he wrote them. The first recorded version of "Love is Strange" was performed by Bo Diddley, who recorded his version on May 24, 1956 with Jody Williams on lead guitar. This version was not released until its appearance on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 in 2007. Mickey & Sylvia's version was recorded several months later on October 17, 1956... while "Billy's Blues" was released as a single June 1956!
... Now, Who do you think actually wrote the song?!
I have a strong feeling myself it was Mickey Baker since he later took credit for one of the French adaptations he co-produced 12 years later with French Swingin' Mademoiselle Actress and singer Françoise Deldick : "Hum! Hum!" (which version one "A. Béréssi" took co-credit... probably the French lyricist!). Had Bo really writen it, under the pseudonym of his wife Ethel Smith, Bo Diddley being also that popular a R'n'R star in France, he would have gone to court to reclaim his rights, don't you think?
Besides, the song is noted for its spoken dialogue section which goes as follows:
"How do you call your Lover Boy?"
"Come here, Lover Boy!"
"And if he doesn't answer?"
"Oh, Lover Boy!"
"And if he still doesn't answer?"
"I simply say..."
... Now would Elias McDaniels have written those lines? I ask you.